Rhode Island Foundation offers $25,000 grants to local artists
Foundation will give three visual artists $25,000 to devote a year to their craft
PROVIDENCE, RI — Rhode Island visual artists who dream of spending a year working
on their craft have until Aug. 18 to apply for $25,000 fellowships from the Rhode
Island Foundation. The grants are considered to be among the largest
no-strings-attached awards available to artists in the United States.
Established in 2003, the Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund makes
up to three grants a year, rotating among composers, writers and visual artists on a
three-year cycle. The awards are intended to free painters, filmmakers, sculptors
and other visual artists to concentrate time on the creative process, focus on
personal or professional development, expand their body of work and explore new
directions. Over the years, the Foundation has awarded 33 fellowships totaling
“These fellowships give local artists the resources to spend more time making art
rather than making ends meet. That honors the significance that our donors placed on
the importance of practicing artists present in the community,” said Daniel
Kertzner, the Foundation’s senior philanthropic advisor for funding partnerships.
Previous recipients of visual art fellowships include Lynne Harlow, whose work
reflects her interest in merging sound and dance, and Daniel Sousa, a Rhode Island
School of Design professor whose animated film “Feral” was nominated for a 2014
“The fellowship has had a huge impact on my career as an artist. With ambitious
projects like animated films, it’s important to have long stretches of uninterrupted
time in order to benefit from the creative momentum of the process. The fellowship
has given me that, as well as the confidence to take more risks and dive deeper into
developing each scene,” said Sousa.
Applicants must have been legal residents of Rhode Island for at least 12 months
prior to the Aug. 18 deadline. High school students, college and graduate students
who are enrolled in a degree-granting program and artists who have advanced levels
of career achievement are not eligible.
Applicants will be judged on the quality of the work samples, artistic development
and the creative contribution to the visual arts, as well as the potential of the
fellowship to advance the career of emerging-to-mid-career artists. Applications
will be accepted from visual artists creating new original work in any genre.
Although the Fellowships are unrestricted, recipients are expected to devote
concentrated time to their art during the term of the fellowship and to engage in
activities that further their artistic growth. Examples include creating new work,
training in technologies or techniques, purchasing equipment or materials, travel,
research and developing artistic endeavors.
The recipients will be selected by a panel of four out-of-state jurors who are
recognized practicing artists and arts professionals. The panel will also name up to
three finalists, who will be awarded the opportunity to participate in a residency
at Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency.
Rhode Islanders Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson were both dedicated to the arts
all their lives. Mrs. Johnson, who died in 1990, earned a degree in creative writing
from Roger Williams College when she was 70. Mr. Johnson invented a new process for
mixing metals in jewelry-making and then retired to become a fulltime painter.
Before he died in 1999, Johnson began discussions with the Foundation that led to
the creation of the fellowships.
The fellowships are partially underwritten by the Madeline B. Standish Fund, created
in 2010 to support the work of writers and artists. The Ox-Bow residencies are
supported by the Kathryn Johnson Fund.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of
nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5
million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and
needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking
activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation
is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information about
applying for a MacColl Johnson Fellowship, visit